Egyptian Military Under Scrutiny - Human Rights Issues
The Egyptian Military is under scrutiny for possible human rights violations involving the treatment of prisoners in the wake of the demonstrations in Tahrir Square. Amnesty International is drawing world-wide press attention to the issue of forced virginity tests on women protesters in Egypt. Virginity tests in general are employed to verify whether or not a woman has shamed her family. However, in the context of dealing with women protesters, it is about much more than that.
While Amnesty International contends that this is degrading to women, Christian Science Monitor goes one step farther, and suggests that this is also an attempt to silence women in general through intimidation. Their case of using sexual harassment in the form of virginity tests is highly convincing when coupled with their accounts of sexual brutality used against male prisoners. Taking all of the complaints of abuse by Egyptian Military authorities into account, the situation is quickly moving to the point where it is debatable whether or not the plight of the people has improved significantly since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
While unsettling, the situation is not unpredictable. The Egyptian Military while trying to maintain order, also is attempting to create a good image in the public eye. Violating women may seem counterproductive in Western eyes, but given the culture in Egypt, it is a highly probable solution to the problem of women taking to the streets and speaking their minds. Al Arabiya offers an interesting analysis of the situation on the ground in Egypt by a Pakistani journalist. Controlling the media, including bloggers and women in the streets, is of vital importance to the Egyptian Military right now. The fact that it is contrary to the expressed goals of creating an open government as opposed to a militaristic regime is something that the current leadership in Egypt needs to seriously consider. The new Egypt is supposed to be better than the previous, not just a changing of the guard.